War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0256 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

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friendly when it can only be to enable the United States to commit to its military subordinates a power to refuse "to permit any vessels to pass within range of the guns" which are within its walls. It has, therefore, been considered at once proper and necessary for this State to take possession of that fort as soon as the measures necessary for the accomplishment of that result can be completed, and it is now expected that within a short time all the arrangements will be perfected necessary for its certain and speedy reduction. With the completion of these preparations and the assurance they afford of success, it has ever been the purpose of the authorities of this State to take this fort into the possession of the State. The right to do so has been considered the right of the State, and the resources of the State have been considered equal to the exercise of that right.

Whatever may be the mode in which the Congress will take charge of these "questions and difficulties," I trust that it is considered that in the solution of them you will regard the position which the State of South Carolina now occupies in relation to them. That position is marked by these propositions: That the right to have possession of the fort is a right incident to the independence (she) the State has asserted; that, to obtain possession of the fort, she has exhausted all modes which, consistently with her dignity, can be devised for a peaceful settlement; that the failure of such attempts has remitted her to the necessity of employing force to obtain that which should have been yielded from considerations of justice and right, and that as soon as her preparations are completed the reduction of that fort should be accomplished.

In the absence of any explanation or direction connected with the telegram received from you, I have assumed that the policy and measures which have been adopted by this State, and which are in prosecution, will be recognized as proper. In the consideration of the question of Fort Sumter, I have not been insensible of those matters which are in their nature consequential, and have, I trust, weighed, with all the care which befits the grave responsibilities of the case, the various circumstances which determine the time when this attack should be made. With the best lights which I could procure in guiding or assisting me, I am perfectly satisfied that the welfare of the new confederation and the necessities of the State require that Fort Sumter should be reduced before the close of the present administration at Washington. If an attack is delayed until after the inauguration of the incoming President of the United States, the troops now gathered in the capital may then be employed in attempting that which, previous to that time, they could not be spared to do. They dare not leave Washington now and do that which then will be a measure too inviting to be resisted.

Mr. Lincoln cannot do more for this State than Mr. Buchanan has done. Mr. Lincoln will not concede what Mr. Buchanan has refused. Mr. Buchanan has placed his refusal upon grounds which determine his reply to six States, as completely as to the same demand if made by a single State.

If peace can be secured, it will be by the prompt use of the occasion, when the forces of the United States are withheld from our harbor. If war can be averted, it will be by making the capture of Fort Sumter a fact accomplished during the continuance of the present administration, and leaving to the incoming administration the question of an open declaration of war. Such a declaration, separated, as it will be, from any present act of hostilities during Mr. Lincoln's administration, may become to him a matter requiring consideration. That consideration will not be expected of him, if the attack on the fort is made during his ad